Today October 21 2014 marks the beginning of the festival of lights- Diwali (दिवाळी)
"...पंक्चरली जरि रात्र दिव्यांनीं,
Thomas Pynchon, 'Gravity’s Rainbow', 1973 is considered one of the greatest books of 20th century. I have still not read it.
Paris Review informed me this month how the book talked about “Phoebus”, an international light-bulb cartel.
"Phoebus fixes the prices and determines the operational lives of all the bulbs in the world, from Brazil to Japan to Holland..."
But Phoebus is NOT Pynchon's imagination. It really existed!
Markus Krajewski informs on September 24 2014 in IEEE Spectrum:
"On 23 December 1924, a group of leading international businessmen gathered in Geneva for a meeting that would alter the world for decades to come. Present were top representatives from all the major lightbulb manufacturers, including Germany’s Osram, the Netherlands’ Philips, France’s Compagnie des Lampes, and the United States’ General Electric. As revelers hung Christmas lights elsewhere in the city, the group founded the Phoebus cartel, a supervisory body that would carve up the worldwide incandescent lightbulb market, with each national and regional zone assigned its own manufacturers and production quotas. It was the first cartel in history to enjoy a truly global reach...."
And concludes on a grim note:
"...True, today’s lighting industry is much larger and more diverse than it was in the 1920s and ’30s, and government monitoring of collusive behavior is more vigilant. Nevertheless, the allure for businesses to cooperate in such a market is strong. And the Phoebus cartel shows how it could succeed."
Image courtesy: Philips Company Archives
As I looked at the picture above and re-read lines from Mardhekar's poem, they assumed a new meaning.
Is that towering figure- who looks like Lee Falk's Phantom- the god Phoebus?
Mardhekar says some one is pumping darkness...तरी पंपतो फिबस काळोख... Is Phoebus doing that? A god spreading darkness instead of light...Mardhekar might have liked this twist!
Isn't any such carteling activity ethically equivalent to pumping of darkness? Isn't this an integral shadowy side of current version of capitalism?
"पंक्चरली जरि रात्र दिव्यांनीं, तरी पंपतो कुणी काळोख;…"
These lines by Mardhekar, which appear in the very first post of this blog, are indeed a powerful metaphor. They are funny and poignant. I never thought they would come handy here.